16 Men from the Diocese of Allentown Conclude Intellectual Component of Permanent Diaconate Formation Program at St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry

16 men from the Diocese of Allentown graduated from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry in Rochester, NY on May 4. A Baccalaureate Mass was held at Saint Bernard’s School followed by Commencement at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Rochester, NY with His Excellency, Salvatore R. Matano presiding.

“Formation for the Diaconate is based on four aspects,” said Father Eugene Ritz, Director of Permanent Diaconate Formation for the Diocese. “Human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. Commencement, in this case, is the culmination of the intellectual formation aspect of the formation process.”

Commencement included a reading from Sacred Scripture and a Choral Meditation. This was followed by an Address by Dr. Jean Baric Parker, Program Director for Saint Bernard’s Graduate Certificate in Catholic Bioethics; the Presentation of Degrees by Dr. Matthew Kuhner, Vice President and Academic Dean; the Conferral of Degrees by Bishop Matano; the hooding ceremony with Mr. Edward W. Kay, Jr., Chair of the Board of Trustees; and remarks by Dr. Stephan Loughlin, President of Saint Bernard’s.

The 16 men of the 2024 Class who received Degrees and Certifications in this Commencement were Patrick B. Alba, Mark T. Brezina, Timothy Ferguson, Carlos Fernandez, James S. Friend, Von T. George, Diomedes B. Matos, John A. Matulevich, Daniel J. Osle, Jaime Peña, Carlos A. Pinto, Robert A. Reiley, Bernard D. Servagno, John M. Sutter, James W. Wallaesa, and Thomas J. Weber.

“There are currently 15 men who are Candidates for the class of 2028,” said Father Ritz.

The Permanent Diaconate program, which is sponsored by the “Because We Are Catholic” Campaign, is possible due to the generosity of the faithful of the Diocese of Allentown. Lasting six years, the program grants the men a Certification in Pastoral Studies to those who do not hold a Bachelor’s Degree, and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to those who previously held a Bachelor’s Degree.

“Given the nature of adult learning, and especially during the time of the pandemic,” said Father Ritz, “the Diocese is grateful that the academic coursework is virtual, employing live sessions on Zoom. [The program also] uses various interactive learning platforms. There are regular in-person conferences and events that bring together the classes in formation, [as well].”

Having finalized the intellectual component of the program, the men will continue their formation by completing six final conferences this summer. Additionally, they will attend a five-day canonical retreat at Saint Joseph’s in the Hills, Malvern, at the beginning of September. This retreat serves as final preparation for their Ordination, which will take place on September 14, 2024. On that day, they will receive their assignments directly from Bishop Alfred Schlert.

For more information on the Vocation to the Permanent Diaconate, please contact the Office of Permanent Diaconate Formation at (610) 332-0442.

The faithful are invited to enrich their faith and education by considering St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry, which also offers various degrees and certifications to clergy, religious, and laity throughout the United States and beyond.

Photo: Father Eugene Ritz, Director of Permanent Diaconate Formation for the Diocese, with 7 of the 16 men. The other men who could not be present were invited to participate virtually.


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